Role of Mother Tongue in Learning English for Specific Purposes

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ESP World, Issue 1 (22), Volume 8, 2009, http://www.esp-world.info

ROLE OF MOTHER TONGUE IN LEARNING ENGLISH FOR SPECIFIC PURPOSES Galina Kavaliauskienė Mykolas Romeris University, Vilnius, Lithuania Abstract A revival of interest to using a mother tongue in the English classroom is stipulated by necessity to improve language accuracy, fluency and clarity. This paper aims at examining students’ perceptions of the use of mother tongue and translation in various linguistic situations. The activities that help raise learners’ awareness of the language use are described. The findings demonstrate that all learners need a support of mother tongue in English classes, but the amount of the native language needed depends on students’ proficiency in English. The statistical significance of the research results was computed by employing the Statistical Package for the Social Sciences (SPSS) software.

Introduction The state-of-the-art teaching of languages is based on the communicative method which emphasizes the teaching English through English. However, the idea of abandoning the native tongue is too stressful to many learners, who need a sense of security in the experience of learning a foreign language. In the past, the prevalence of grammar-translation method led to the extraordinary phenomenon: students were unable to speak fluently after having studied the language for a long time. This led to the idea that all use of the mother tongue in the language classroom should be avoided (Harmer, 2001:131). Translation has been thought as uncommunicative, boring, pointless, difficult, and irrelevant. ROLE OF MOTHER TONGUE IN LEARNING ENGLISH FOR SPECIFIC PURPOSES Galina Kavaliauskienė

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ESP World, Issue 1 (22), Volume 8, 2009, http://www.esp-world.info

Recently there has been a revival of interest to translation due to the shift of its emphasis - to using a mother tongue as a resource for the promotion of language learning. Translation develops three qualities essential to all language learning: accuracy, clarity, and flexibility (Ross, 2000:61). Therefore, the use of mother tongue and translation can serve as a tool for improving language skills. The goals of this paper are, firstly, to examine students’ perceptions of the use of mother tongue and translation in learning English, and secondly, to describe the activities which raise learners’ awareness of language use. Comparison between the first language L1 and the second language L2 through translation might help learners activate language usage and serve as a tool to improve English. Research methods employ the survey of students’ perceptions of the amount of mother tongue they need in acquisition of a foreign language at tertiary level and mental translation in various class activities.

Mother tongue and translation in English Language Teaching

It is necessary to discriminate between the teaching of translation as a vocational skill and the use of the mother tongue in the teaching situation as an aid to language learning. The need for some translation in language learning is usually supported by non-native teachers. Native teachers of English argue that foreign language learning needs as much exposure to the L2 as possible during precious classroom time, and any usage of the L1 or translation is a waste of time. In the past, most methods in L2 language pedagogy dictated that L1 should be prohibited in the classroom. Communicative approaches to language learning in the 1970s and 1980s considered the use of the L1 as undesirable. However, recently the attitude to mother tongue and translation in language classes has undergone a positive change. Translation is sometimes referred to as the fifth language skill alongside the other four basic skills of listening, speaking, reading, and writing. ‘Translation holds a special importance at an intermediate

ROLE OF MOTHER TONGUE IN LEARNING ENGLISH FOR SPECIFIC PURPOSES Galina Kavaliauskienė

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ESP World, Issue 1...
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